4 Reasons Why Every Parent Should Be A Fan Of Boundaries

Author of 5 books, podcaster, parent trainer, husband and father.

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I have always been a fan of setting clear and well-defined boundaries for children. I believed this even before I became a parent. But now that I am one, the fan-ship has grown exponentially. Sadly, I've met a lot of parents who feel the opposite. The reward you gain from setting boundaries goes beyond comprehension but it takes a long time, and a lot of consistency, before you receive it.

All I could do was nod in agreement with the parents of a defiant 17-year old. “We did this!” the mother exclaimed through tears. “I know we did. We never told him ‘no’ to anything when he was little.”

Sadly, she was right. As they sat in my office, tears and regret flowing like a swollen river, the realization of their situation became painfully obvious. They were nearly 15 years overdue on setting boundaries for their son. What he had come to learn was that he was free to do whatever, with whomever, whenever he wanted to. His parents stood by and watched it happen.

Or worse, they would throw out idle threats to him that he knew deep in his psyche would never come to fruition.

Their lack of boundary setting, and upholding of defined boundaries, meant a whole lot of painstaking, heartbreaking work was ahead of them. This could have been prevented.

I’ve sat with many parents of teenagers, or young adults, over the past 18 years, who were in similar predicaments- unruly teenager, defiant, belligerent, uncaring of anyone around them except themselves. It’s a well-known story. The question is always the same from parents- “How do we get our out-of-control teenager to get his (or her) act together?”

After I pose some questions and learn some history, the answer is almost always the same- “You should have asked this question a decade or more ago!”

Setting boundaries with your children, and staying committed to them for the long haul, is not easy. It takes focus and a strong partnership between you and your spouse. It takes tough love. It means that your life has to be adjusted, as an adult, to make sure your children are living within the healthy boundaries you’ve set up for them. After all, that’s what you signed up for when you became a parent.

Why are boundaries so important? The answer may seem obvious, but I’ve come to understand a few profound reasons from years of counseling families in crisis. Here are, what I believe, 4 reasons you should become a fan of boundaries:

Reason #1- Boundaries are critical for functional, healthy living.

You may think this is obvious but so many parents miss this. They compartmentalize their situation, or the age their child is currently, and chalk things up to “just being a kid.” This is partly true, but what’s at stake? The health of your family, that’s what!

When boundaries lack disfunction and un-health have soil to grow in. As days turn into years, the un-health takes such a deep root that health and functionality have little room to grow.

Reason #2- Boundaries have more to do with the future than the present.

I have met too many parents, over the past 18 years, that are wrapped up in what I call the ‘here and now.’ They are so concerned about their child’s well-being and making sure they are happy (which are not bad things) in the present day that they lose sight of their child at 15, 17, or 18.

The biggest question you can ask yourself as a parent is, “By setting this boundary now, and sticking to it, what kind of person am I creating in the future?” Evaluate the dividends of setting healthy boundaries for your children when they are young verses the debt of not setting them and having to clean up the mess (i.e.- out of control teen) in the future.

It’s similar to saving for retirement. If you sacrifice some salary and income in your younger years to invest wisely, someday you will benefit from the dividends of a healthy nest egg. The longer you wait the less of a dividend you will receive.

Reason #3- You will reap later, the lack of boundaries you sow now. 

The old adage is true- you will reap what you sow. If you are fickle with boundaries with your child in their early years, you will struggle with them later on in their teen years, and beyond. You will someday reap the backlash of an unruly teenager who fails to understand the significance of the boundaries you are setting when all those years previous he or she was permitted to roam free, without restriction.

Reason #4- Setting boundaries for your children helps you grow personally.

With nearly every boundary we have set for our children, we have grown or learned valuable lessons personally. For instance, when we set the boundary of “TV only after chores are done and homework is complete,” it caused us to look at our own productivity and what we were leaving ‘undone’ when we sat down in the evening for some tube watching!

You will also have opportunities to grow when you have to enforce a consequence- like taking keys to the car away for breaking curfew. This means you will be your child’s taxi service for the duration of their consequence, and it will be inconvenient for you!

A friend of mine posted this on Facebook the other day, as it relates to boundaries, and I had to agree:

Disobedience always delays the destination. Just ask my son. One of these days, he’ll thank me for caring more about who he was becoming than where he was going.

When we decide as parents, to set clear, healthy, and defined boundaries for our children, we are protecting them from potential pain today but we are also pointing them in healthy directions for the future.

Do you struggle with setting boundaries for your children?

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Mike and Kristin Berry are the Co-Founders of The Honestly Adoption Company and have been parents for nearly two decades. They are the authors of six books, and the host of The Honestly Adoption Podcast.

Sarah Gray

Sarah Gray is the executive assistant to Mike and Kristin Berry. And she is the best in the land. In addition to providing a warm and friendly response to the many emails our company receives on a weekly basis, she also manages Mike and Kristin’s speaking and meeting schedules, and makes sure that team events go off without a hitch.

Nicole Goerges

Nicole Goerges is a Content Contributor & Special Consultant for The Honestly Adoption Company. She works with Mike and Kristin as a recurring co-host for the Honestly Adoption Podcast, and co-host of Kitchen Table Talks, exclusive video content for Oasis Community, along with Kristin. She is a fellow adoptive mom, and former foster parent.

Matt McCarrick

Matt McCarrick is the Content Production Specialist for The Honestly Adoption Company. If you’ve loved listening to our podcast, or enjoyed any of the videos trainings we’ve published, you have Matt to thank. He oversees all of our content production, from video edits, to making sure the tags are correct on YouTube, to uploading new videos to Oasis, to hitting publish on a podcast episode, he’s a content wonder!

Karen Anderson

Karen Anderson is the Community Engagement Specialist for The Honestly Adoption Company. She spends the bulk of her time interacting with, and helping, people through our various social media channels, as well as providing support for Oasis Community members through chat support or Zoom calls. In the same spirit as Beaver, Karen is also passionate about connecting with parents and making them feel loved and supported. Karen is also an FASD trainer and travels often, equipping and encouraging parents.

Beaver Trumble

Beaver Trumble is the Customer Care Specialist for The Honestly Adoption Company. Chances are, if you have been in need of technical support, or forgotten your password to one of our courses, you have interacted with Beaver. He is an absolute pro at customer care. In fact, he single-handedly revolutionized our customer care department last year. Beaver is passionate about connecting with parents and making them feel loved and encouraged.

Kristin Berry

Kristin Berry is the co-founder of, and Chief Content Specialist for, The Honestly Adoption Company. She spends most of her time researching and connecting with guests for our podcast, as well as direction, designing and publishing a lot of the content for our social media channels, blog and podcast. She loves to connect with fellow parents around the world, and share the message of hope with them.

Mike Berry

Mike Berry is the co-founder of, and Chief Marketing Specialist for, The Honestly Adoption Company. He spends the bulk of his time and energy designing and building many of the resources you see within our company, as well as social media and email campaigns. His goal is to use media as a means to encourage and equip parents around the world. He is also the co-host of The Honestly Adoption Podcast.